Kathryn's inclusivity mission takes her across the world
When it comes to inspirational Logan women, it is hard to go past Kathryn Lyons.
Kathryn, or Kat, was born with a chromosome duplication and gene defect, resulting in multiple disability related issues, or a complex disability. She uses a wheelchair and experiences spina bifida, microcephaly, learning issues, twisting bones, and is now non-verbal, with doctors currently trying to identify what type of neuromuscular disorder she lives with.
Kat’s also a business owner, charity founder, model, spokesperson, inventor, and board member who has spoken at the UN in New York, a number of universities, and on the TED Talk stage.
She is also just 30 years old.
The Loganholme local is motivated by a desire for a more accessible world – one where people who experience disabilities are given as much space and opportunities as those who do not.
This is the goal of her company, accessibili-tplus.com, where she and her team produce sanitation and health solutions to better support the disabled and aged in Australia. .
Some of her products are in early development stages.
‘We are now looking for manufacturers to take on 3 designs that will greatly improve safety and hygiene for accessible toilets in developed countries that have western style facilities,’ Kathryn says.
‘Our goal is to enable greater access and inclusion for all.’
You can hear from Kathryn herself here at the World Expo in November 2021, where she talks about the importance of inclusion, the consequences of exclusion – and how COVID-19 shone a spotlight on the impact of isolation and access. She also demonstrates how even “accessible” spaces, such as disabled toilets, can be difficult to negotiate as a person with a disability, and what the repercussions can be for people in the disability community.
She says she was largely unaware of her impact on individuals until she started to be approached by young women.
‘I remember in 2019, while I was in New York, a young wheelchair bound woman approached me and asked if I was really Kathryn Lyons,’ she says.
‘I was surprised to learn she watched my TED Talk when it was used as part of a lecture given at the University of Nairobi.
‘Discovering how this woman acted on my challenge impressed me. By speaking with village elders, together, the village was able to improve sanitation and health outcomes for their people. This led to her selection to represent Kenya at the United Nations, whilst it also gave me the opportunity to listen to her story.’
This Queensland Women’s Week, Kathryn has a message for young women.
‘I challenge you to stop and consider how different your life would be if you became the role model you wished you had when you were young,’ she says.
‘You have the ability to change lives, to inspire, and encourage others to believe in themselves.
‘It starts by opening up and sharing your story. Everybody has one. Mine started with toilets. As I have found, positive story telling is the best way to encourage, impact and influence others towards a more inclusive world.
‘It amazes me every time I discover that I have influenced others to act or change their reality. Just as I can break down barriers by communicating to create global impact, imagine what would be possible if YOU did this too.’